Populous is a computer game designed by Peter Molyneux for Bullfrog, released originally for the Amiga in 1989, and is regarded by many as the first god game. It is the first game in the Populous series, preceding Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods and Populous: The Beginning.
Identifier sg_Populous_1990_Bullfrog_Productions_Electronic_Arts_USMediatype softwareScanner Internet Archive Python library 0.5.2Publicdate 2014-05-06 03:28:24Addeddate 2014-05-06 03:28:24Emulator_ext binEmulator genesisCreator Bullfrog Productions/Electronic ArtsDate 1990Year 1990Backup_location ia905807_15Language English
The main action window in Populous is viewed from an isometric perspective, and it is set in a "tabletop" on which are set the command icons, the world map (depicted as an open book) and a slider bar that measures the level of the player's divine power or "mana".
The game consists of 500 levels, and each level represents an area of land on which live the player's followers and the enemy followers. In order to progress to the next level the player must increase the number of his followers such that they can wipe out the enemy followers. This is done by using a series of divine powers.
The most basic power is raising and lowering land. This is primarily done in order to provide flat land for the player's followers to build on (though it is also possible to remove land from around the enemy's followers). As the player's followers build more houses they create more followers, and this increases the player's mana level.
Increasing the mana level unlocks additional divine powers that allow the player to interact further with the landscape and the population. The powers include the ability to cause earthquakes and floods, create swamps and volcanoes, and to turn ordinary followers into more powerful knights.
In this game the player adopts the role of a deity and assumes the responsibility to shepherd people by direction, manipulation, and divine intervention. The player has the ability to shape the landscape and grow their civilization – and their divine power – with the overall aim of having their followers conquer an enemy force, which is led by an opposing deity.
Populous was released in March 1989, and received almost universal critical acclaim, although Peter Molyneux notes that it was released at the same time as the The Satanic Verses controversy was happening, and that Bullfrog was subsequently contacted by the Daily Mail and warned that the "good vs evil" nature of the game would lead to them receiving a similar fatwā (though in fact this did not materialise).
The game was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #150 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars. Biff Kritzen of Computer Gaming World gave the game a positive review, noting, "as heavy-handed as the premise sounds, it really is a rather light-hearted game." The simple design and layout were praised, as were the game's colorful graphics. MegaTech magazine said the game had "super graphics and 500 levels. Populous is both highly original and amazingly addictive, with a constant challenge on offer". Mega placed the game at #25 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.
Compute! named the game to its list of "nine great games for 1989", stating that with "great graphics, a simple-to-learn interface, and almost unlimited variety, Populous is a must buy for 1989". Orson Scott Card in the magazine criticized the game's user interface, but praised the graphics and the ability to "create your own worlds ... you control the world of the game, instead of the other way around". The game was voted the 6th best game of all time in Amiga Power.